Posted on Thursday, January 25th, 2007
Many years ago I served in Berlin under a difficult chief — to put it mildly. The experience served me well when I encountered and endured later much more serious events that touched me deeply. At the end of each month during this year, my wife and I prepared a special breakfast celebration and with a split of champagne toasted the experience.
The following poem I composed to remind me — and perhaps you — through grief, loss, disappointment awaits extraordinary joy. But remember, I said though.
His Smile Stilled My Anxious Heart
I came upon a man of indeterminate years
At the beach the other morning.
Walking toward me on hard-capped sand
Just beyond the surf-splash of the winter sea.
He was barefoot, damp cuffs hiked,
His legs displayed the scars of age.
Gray scraggly beard, furrowed face
Poked out the rumpled sweatshirt hood.
As if he knew me he approached.
His smile stilled my anxious heart
Where I somber mulled life’s travails,
Disorientation and at times despair.
His smile stilled my anxious heart and
He began to speak of loss, disappointment,
Failed relationships, goals not met,
Declining health, time running out.
Not sure I needed one such company
On this desultory day where storm clouds
Hovered above dull, flat surf
I made to leave — he restrained me gently.
His arm around my shoulder calmed,
He whispered, In adversity celebrate!
I thought him mad though gazed
Blue radiance for confirmation.
Undeterred, not loosening his grip,
Shattered you are, it seems,
So be among those chosen, he urged,
Learn the way of celebration.
He knew me well, this wanderer,
I leaned closer to catch his breath,
Confound dark forces with acceptance,
In your nakedness be clothed in light.
I hadn’t expected riddles on the sand,
No longer I resist his sway,
Let go of trappings, those delusions,
Apparitions let loose in gaudy gown,
Tempting — chimerical of light,
No offering of warmth in winter,
Fluttering distractions without worth
As you prepare to journey.
He looked to sea and back again,
A truth, he hushed to me,
Tears are the narrow gate
That leads to joy foretold.
Then he was gone and I alone,
Recalling a smile on an empty beach
That stilled my anxious heart, and
Gave me cause to celebrate.
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Posted on Wednesday, January 17th, 2007
Silence is something that has been thrust upon me especially in the early waking hours prior to my son waking for school.
Silence has been a challenge for me in addressing the grieving process and a huge blessing. In the past, silence was a space between happenings that I sought — sometimes fought — to fill. Now I consider silence as a grace and quite curative, if I am still.
The following poem I wrote in this idyllic location where I reside where Great Blue Herons visit regularly– no such experience growing up in the Bronx, New York, though the Bronx Zoo was not too far distant..
Thoughts Of Silence
That Great Blue Heron is back
Preening herself on the piling.
She is as quiet and thought rapt
As the onlooker – gray dawn fading.
There’s times when silence is
Especially piercing – no words yet spoken –
When the inner presence, ever vigilant,
Emerges and subsumes mind-cackle,
A guide, this quiet one, to the water’s edge within,
Down deep, ever deeper, where ripple-free currents
Transport the willing deeper still to a place
Where love flows undiluted by words.
It is not long – just an eternity –
That sound-pings call them to the surface.
Mundane tasks await attention,
Like plumb-lines measuring depth.
Each dive to sound heart rhythm
Emboldens exploration of regions
Most remote where treasures lay
Amidst such thoughts of silence.
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Posted on Tuesday, January 9th, 2007
I wrote this poem a couple of days ago, reflecting upon a relationship that ended. Loss might not be really loss when we consider how we grow in loss — even from the tragic variety.
Tingle of Loss
Do you remember
When we secured
Two skiffs off-shore
Above the deep?
Hemp-pull through fingers
Straining to secure balance
In such fragile barks.
It was then for a time
We brushed eternity,
As we drifted apart.
What puzzles me –
As a limb lost still tingles,
So too my hands
That once pulled hemp.
Divine Love might be the same –
As determined I am, or you,
To slip the knot, there is a sort of
Union sustained in separation.
So before you exchange
Strands of rope – a word of caution,
Realize you remain together
Long after in the tingle of loss.
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Posted on Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007
Consider stillness as our theme for the next few days as we become accustomed to 2007. Each morning I seize quiet time as a hostage, hearing first his (or is it her) questions, followed by answers — if I listen attentively.
Great Blue Heron
A lone Blue Heron
Walked on tip-toe
Across the lawn
In an early golden sunrise.
Neck craned forward
It leaped down across the bulkhead
Amidst the Savannah grass
Growing wild at water’s edge.
Now disguised it searched
In rich, deep mud
For crabs to satisfy
An inner craving.
And I the same – solitary
Seated before the splendor
Of that rising sun
Seeking solace in the Word.
Wonder if union with creation
Hastens clarity when we follow
Unobserved a Great Blue Heron
In the tall grass at dawn?
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